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Lillian gets up and pads over to me casually. “Yes, I do. Like I said, you’re just like Riley.”

“Well, I feel sorry for her because she has to put up . . .” I begin to lash out at the girl but stop myself. She hasn’t done anything wrong; she’s actually been trying to help me and doesn’t deserve my anger.

I sigh. “Sorry, okay?” I walk back into the living room, plopping myself back onto the couch.

“See, apologizing isn’t so hard, is it?” Lillian smiles and goes over to the silver bar, bringing the brandy over to where I sit.

“You obviously need another drink.” She smiles and grabs my empty glass.

AFTER MY THIRD GLASS, I mumble, “Tessa hates when I drink.”

“Are you a mean drunk?”

“No,” I say reflexively. But seeing that she’s really interested, I ponder the question some more and reconsider. “Sometimes.”

“Hmm . . .”

“Why don’t you drink?” I ask.

“I don’t know, I just don’t.”

“Does your boyf . . .” I begin but correct myself, “girlfriend drink?”

She nods. “Yes, sometimes. Not as much as before.”

“Oh.” This Riley and I may have more in common than I thought.

“Lillian?” her father calls out, and then I hear the staircase creak.

I sit up and move away from her out of instinct, and she turns her attention to him. “Yes, Father?”

“It’s nearly one in the morning. I think it’s time your company heads out,” he says.

One in the morning? Holy shit.

“Okay.” She nods and looks back to me. “He seems to forget I’m an adult,” she whispers, annoyance clear in her voice.

“I need to go anyway. Tessa’s going to kill me,” I gripe. When I stand, my legs aren’t as steady under me as they should be.

“You’re welcome to come back tomorrow, Hardin,” my father’s friend says as I reach the door.

“Just apologize and consider Seattle,” Lillian reminds me.

But I’m determined to ignore her, and I walk out the door, down the steps, and onto the paved driveway. I would really love to know what her dad does for a living; he’s obviously rich as fuck.

It’s pitch-black out here. Literally, I can barely see my hand as I wave it idiotically in front of my face. When I reach the end of the driveway, the lights outside my father’s cabin come into view, and they guide me to to his driveway and up the porch steps.

The screen door creaks when I open it, and I curse at it. The last thing I need is my father waking up and smelling the brandy on my breath. Then again, he may want some himself.

My inner Tessa immediately scolds me for the cynical thought, and I pinch the bridge of my nose, shaking my head to get her out.

I nearly knock over a lamp trying to pull my boots off of my feet. I grip the corner of the wall to steady myself and finally manage to place my boots next to Tessa’s shoes. My palms begin to sweat as I take the staircase as slowly as possible. I’m not drunk, but I am quite buzzed, and I know she’s going to be even more upset than she was before. She was downright cheesed the fuck off earlier, and now that I’ve stayed out this long—and have been drinking—she’s going to lose it. I’m actually a little . . . afraid of her right now. She was so mad earlier, cursing at me and ordering me away.

The door to the room we’re sharing opens with a small squeak, and I try to be as quiet as possible and guide myself through the dark room without waking her.

No such luck.

The lamp on the nightstand switches on, and Tessa’s impassive glare is focused on me.

“Sorry . . . I didn’t want to wake you,” I apologize.

A frown forms on her full lips. “I wasn’t asleep,” she states, and my chest begins to tighten.

“I know it’s late, I’m sorry,” I say, my words running together.

She squints. “Have you been drinking?”

Despite her expression, her eyes are bright. The way the soft light of the lamp hits her face makes me want to reach across the bed and touch her.

“Yes,” I say and wait for the fury of my very own Lyssa.

She sighs and brings her hands to her forehead to brush the loose tendrils that have escaped her ponytail. She doesn’t seem to be alarmed or surprised by my state.

Thirty seconds later, I’m still waiting on the rage.

But nothing.

She’s just sitting there on the bed, leaning back on her arms, staring at me with despondent eyes while I stand awkwardly in the center of the room.

“Are you going to say anything?” I finally ask, hoping to break this haunting silence.

“No, I’m not.”


“I’m exhausted and you’re drunk; there’s really nothing for me to say,” she says without emotion.

I’m always nervously anticipating her to finally snap, to finally get to the point where she’s tired of putting up with my shit, and honestly, I’m scared to fucking death that this may be it.

“I’m not drunk, I only had three drinks. You know that’s not shit to me,” I say and sit on the edge of the bed. A chill runs down my spine when she moves closer to the headboard to get away from me.

“Where were you?” Her voice is soft.

“Next door.”

She continues to stare at me, expecting more information.

“I was with this girl Lillian, her dad went to college with mine and we were talking, one thing led to another and—”

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